Tour of Utah 2018 route will include brutal Empire Pass

The organizer unveil the 2018 course Wednesday morning, a seven-day route that kicks off with an August 6 prologue in St. George.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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The seven-day, 536-mile route for this summer’s Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will include nearly 44,000 feet of elevation gain and the brutal Empire Pass climb, organizers confirmed Wednesday.

Billed as “America’s Toughest Stage Race,” the Tour of Utah will once again show its teeth during the seven-day race, August 6-12.

Three legendary climbs — Mount Nebo, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Empire Pass — will appear in the race. Little Cottonwood Canyon and Empire Pass are rated as HC climbs, while Mount Nebo is the highest mountain in the 160-mile Wasatch Range.

The Little Cottonwood Canyon summit finish in stage 5 will take place at Snowbird Resort and will serve as the queen stage of the race. Empire Pass, meanwhile, is part of stage 6 and has pitches that reach 20 percent gradient.

“This year’s Tour of Utah has some exciting challenges for competitors, which will make it an incredible seven-day battle for fans to watch,” said John Kimball, managing director of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. “It all starts with the stunning beauty along Red Hills Parkway for the Prologue route in St. George. In the next six days, the course averages 7,200 feet of climbing each day to test our international field of riders. This is truly America’s toughest stage race.”

The race will kick off August 6 with a 3.3-mile prologue in St. George, the first time the Tour of Utah has visited this area in the southwest portion of the state.

The race route points toward the sky the following day on stage 1, a 101-mile route that will feature an ascent through the Cedar Breaks National Monument. The stage will have a total of 8,950 feet of elevation gain, starting and finishing in Cedar City.

Stage 2 is an 88.6-mile course that starts and finishes in Payson City and has a climb up Mount Nebo. The peloton will finish that climb at 9,300 feet above sea level and then will navigate a twisty, 22-mile descent back into Payson City.

Stage 3 is the longest day of the race at 104 miles and starts on Antelope Island, home to hundreds of American bison. A seven-mile causeway connects the island to mainland Utah.

The fourth stage on August 10 is a 10-lap, 68.4-mile circuit race around Salt Lake City. This year marks the 11th year Utah’s capital has hosted a stage in the Tour of Utah.

Stages 5 and 6 will push each rider to the brink. The Aug. 11 fifth stage has three major climbs — Jordanelle Reservoir, Guardsman Pass, and Little Cottonwood Canyon. The peloton will climb 9,975 feet on the queen stage that starts in Canyons Village and ends at Snowbird Resort.

The final stage in Park City contains an HC climb up the punishing Empire Pass before a descent into Park City for the finish.

Rally Cycling’s Rob Britton won the 2017 Tour of Utah and will return this summer to defend his title.

“There’s no question, winning last year’s Tour of Utah was the biggest result of my career, and one of the best days of my life,” he said. “The race really does mean a lot to me.”

Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah 2018 route

Prologue, August 6: St. George, 3.3 miles
Stage 1, August 7: Cedar City, 101 miles
Stage 2, August 8: Payson City, 88.6 miles
Stage 3: August 9: Antelope Island to Layton City, 104 miles
Stage 4, August 10: Salt Lake City, 68.4 miles
Stage 5, August 11: Canyons Village to Snowbird Resort, 94.8 miles
Stage 6, August 12: Park City, 76.7 miles

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